Shares of Baltimore-based Under Armour Inc. (UAA) have declined more than 30% this year as investors assess consumer reaction to CEO Kevin Plank's embrace of President Donald Trump and the athletic wear maker seeks more innovation across the organization. The company once widely seen as “the next Nike Inc." (NKE) has seen its share price halved in the last 12 months.
UAA No Longer Seen as "Cool Brand"
While Under Armour shares were sinking, Nike remained relatively stable and German-based Adidas AG (ADDYY) boomed to all-time highs, gaining almost 70% since April.
In addition to the negative response to a quarterly miss in January, which caused Under Armour to fall 25% on January 31, analysts warned of reputational risk associated with Chief Executive Officer Kevin Plank's seeming embrace of President Donald Trump and his policies. Many consumers, and even the company’s own celebrity endorsers, spoke out about Plank’s ostensibly pro-Trump remarks. Despite Plank’s efforts, including a taking out a full-page ad in the Baltimore Sun to clarify his stances, trading and research firm Susquehanna Financial Group says it will be “nearly impossible” for the firm to “build a cool urban lifestyle brand in the foreseeable future.”
Speaking to the magnitude of Under Armour’s decline, major U.S. retailer Foot Locker Inc. (FL) failed to even mention the firm in its latest fourth-quarter earnings call. Analysts indicated this may have even worse implications for Under Armour relative to last year when the retailer pointed out the sporting gear maker’s underperformance.(See also: Can Under Armour Make a Comeback?)
New Exec to Spearhead Innovation
Under Armour has hired Clay Dean, a former General Motors Co. (GM) executive, as the company’s first-ever chief innovation officer. Dean was most recently in charge of the automaker’s Global Advanced Design organization.
Dean will be responsible for “global vision and strategy for Innovation, and cross-functional collaboration with its internal Design, Marketing, Product and Category Management team.” (See also: Adidas Shares Hit All-Time High.)